Masonic Cancer Center opens new summer research program

Profs hope full-time program will help undergrad students find jobs.

Kristina Busch

A new summer research program at the Masonic Cancer Center will open applications to undergraduate students at the University of Minnesota in November in an effort to train college students for graduate school.
Cancer Research, Education and Training Experience (CREATE) will be led by University Medical Scientist Training Program Director Yoji Shimizu and will give 16 undergraduate students the chance to research cancer biology full-time for 10 weeks.
Workshops concerning current issues and events in cancer biology, training in communication and applying for graduate school will also be included in the program, Shimizu said.
The program will have two components, Shimizu said: laboratory-based research and a mentorship with a faculty member from the Masonic Cancer Center.
Because the program will be similar to a full-time job, it’ll prepare undergraduates for comparable work in graduate school, said Biological Science Research Club President and neuroscience junior Vineesha Kollipara.
“This program is really designed to develop the next generation of cancer researchers,” Shimizu said. “Our hope is that these students will go on to pursue [doctorate] or [medical doctor] training in a field that is relevant to cancer biology.”
Some in the cancer research field — like biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics professor Reuben Harris — say students should pursue undergrad research.
“One of the most important things students can do is get into a research program and start a project,” Harris said. 
Kollipara found a research opportunity during her freshman year, and as a sophomore, she worked as an assistant to a graduate student analyzing muscle rehabilitation.
“I think it’s important that the professors mentor the students,” Harris said, “but they will also need day-to-day mentors at the lab, like senior graduate students, who can answer every question that they have.”
Shimizu said the program will be available to students at universities nationwide.
“We are seeking applicants who have a really strong interest in research and in pursuing careers that are focused on cancer biology,” he said.